Texas-based startup Harborly launched its Bitcoin retail service in the United States today. Harborly, which was already operational in Canada, will be the first U.S. bitcoin-buying service to offer users the ability to lock their bitcoin to a fixed U.S. dollar exchange rate when it launches the feature in June.
Harborly, founded by computer programmers Connor Black and Gabriel Ferrin, will charge a one percent fee plus a 25-cent bank fee for bitcoin purchases. At launch, the retailer will be accessible to residents of Texas and California, but the startup plans on expanding to nine additional states in upcoming months.
The startup claims to have a close relationship with its U.S. banking partner, but said it was not at liberty to reveal which bank that is.
“Harborly’s goal is to make buying, selling and using digital currency as easy and attractive as possible,” Black, who is also the company’s CEO, told Bitcoin Magazine. “We’ve entered the U.S. market with a new, competitive alternative in the bitcoin retail space. As we secure a foothold and gain market share, we plan to launch additional innovative Bitcoin products, such as locked Bitcoin wallets.”
A Global Bitcoin Company
Harborly is focused on operating internationally and plans to expand to countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America within a year. The startup thinks Bitcoin will cause a “technology paradigm shift” in the next 10 years and that by operating a global Bitcoin company they will be best positioned to take advantage of the new technology.
The young startup hopes to accomplish its ambitious global vision with regional advisers who will help Harborly find banking partners and adjust its business model for each region. The advisers include AlemHealth founder Aschkan Abdul-Malek, KCP Capital Managing Director Roderik van der Graaf; Afrasia Development Corp. Chairman Pierre Gussing, ex-Deutsche Bank executive Jordan Himel and Tauil & Chequer Advogados Rio de Janeiro partner Salim Saud Neto.
“Bitcoin’s core architecture is innately borderless, but, generally speaking, it’s impractical to use in most regions across the globe. Digital currency is in a unique position right now where its success is dependent on cooperation with the current financial system, and this cooperation is shaky at best,” said Black.
“We understand this and have aligned our vision accordingly,” Black added. “First, Harborly is going to continue bridging the gap between local payment methods and the bitcoin markets. And second, we’re going to continue developing products and solutions that push past this status quo, enabling bitcoin to prosper in its own right.”
The Bitcoin retailer recently raised a small seed round from undisclosed angel investors. The funds raised will give the company capital to act as market marker, grow its operations in the United States and expand upon its business development efforts in India – a country the startup is keen on expanding to. Black said the company is in talks with several payment providers in India, so when launched, Indians will have many payment options.
Harborly, which plans on launching in the central Asian country in August, will create a remittance service from the United States to India, a nearly $12 billion remittance corridor. The startup will be the first company to offer a bitcoin remittance product between the two countries. Harborly will also operate its Bitcoin retail and price-locking service in the country.